Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 46, Issue 18, pp 6154–6157 | Cite as

Evidence of biocomposite structure in Colletes halophilus nest material

  • Rebecca A. Belisle
  • Irene G. TurnerEmail author
  • Martin P. Ansell


Recently, materials scientists have taken interest in the nest cell linings of Colletes bees as a promising model for the synthesis of natural polymers, though they have been of long-standing interest to entomologists for taxonomic and evolutionary classification [1]. Colletes bees are capable of producing a high molecular weight, linear polyester [2] that is naturally derived, robust and strongly resistant to chemical degradation [2, 3, 4]. It has also been shown to be biodegradable [5] and may serve as a model for non-petroleum derived polymers in the future.

The source of the nest cell lining material has been identified as the Dufour’s gland of Colletes bees, an enlarged gland containing a variety of macrocyclic lactones located in the bees’ abdomens [2, 3, 6, 7, 8]. However, the process of nest cell lining construction is contested. Batra [8] suggests the Dufour’s gland secretions are ingested and mixed with salivary secretions in the crop before being licked onto...


Polyester Material Silk Fibre Salivary Secretion Nest Cell Macrocyclic Lactone 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Fulbright Commission for the award of a scholarship to one of the authors in support of this study. Thanks go to the MAS Centre at the University of Bath for help with the electron and confocal microscopy, and to Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering for their continued collaboration throughout this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca A. Belisle
    • 1
  • Irene G. Turner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin P. Ansell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of BathBathUK

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